Upfront: Ya Gotta Pay What Ya Owe
Upfront is here for your amusement. Cory the Clown, right? Now this clown has a serious message so give him your undivided attention, just like we're doing, so that maybe we can get some good done in these parts.
Well, it's officially December, the final grueling month of what has been a terrible year for many Americans. Lots of us – myself included – have experienced setbacks, disappointment, and grief throughout 2011.
There was that tragic incident back in July when I ate too much at lunchtime and felt sluggish and lazy for the rest of the day. Then, there was that time in September when my iPhone screen cracked and I had to buy a whole 'nother iPhone. Or that time last month when ice and hail conspired against my trusty Ford pickup, "Ol' Blue," and I had to drive a free luxury rental car for nearly a month while my insurance company repaired Ol' Blue at no cost to me. Most disappointing was the time my icebox died and I had to eat out three times a day for a whole week while awaiting delivery of the new Maytag I bought.
While it is ashamedly easy to bemoan such losses of comfort and convenience, these complications fall into a category I like to call "first-world problems." In all seriousness, these are not real problems.
Not having enough to eat and not having a warm place to sleep are real problems; having a dead-end future and no possible access to education or advancement are real problems; finding yourself trapped in an abusive relationship or a hostile workplace are real problems; having your future pre-ordained due to the color of your skin or the "god" you worship – or don't – are real problems.
Those of you who think you know me or regularly read this column are aware that it is my job to act like a complete jackass for your amusement, kind of like a clown. Lots of you laugh with me, lots of you laugh at me; lots of you think I am brilliant, and lots of you think I am a complete hack. Whatever.
Those of you who really know me are also aware that I've been involved in charity work nearly my entire adult life, and at this time of the year, there are few things that matter more to me than helping people who have actual, real problems, not "first-world problems." I have been incredibly lucky to receive this bully pulpit from the Erie Reader; with no exceptions (so far), these fools, errr, gentlemen let me write about whatever I want to write about, and for the past 30 weeks I have been able to violate the space between your ears repeatedly and often violently. I am going to continue to do that; however, as you may have noticed, this week, I will utilize that bully pulpit for a different reason.
Throughout December, I will be accepting your suggestions for worthy local and national charities. Send a simple note to my email address below, along with your contact information, and I will post a short entry in the Erie Reader "Bloggery" informing Reader readers exactly what they can do to incite change in our community. It is the least I can do, considering the massive Karmic debt us first-worlders incur on a daily basis. That way, every time some overfed, undereducated knucklehead maces a bunch of other morons at Wal-Mart to get the inside angle on a Black Friday video game sale, you know you have done your part to repay these Karmic debts.
Cory Vaillancourt is a brilliant writer/complete hack and can be complimented/heckled at cvaillancourt@ErieReader.com.